BAINBRIDGE — The sports awards he won throughout high school could cover a kitchen table, but Ryan Healt was most proud of the ones given for sportsmanship.
Ryan A. Healt died unexpectedly on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, at Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City. He was 24.
Born in Schenectady on May 2, 1988, and raised in Knox, Mr. Healt enjoyed going with his father, Ronald Healt, who was a member and past president, to the local firehouse, to be with the other firemen and their sons.
The elder Healt, who was a member of the Knox fire company for 19 years, said this sense of camaraderie pervaded his son’s actions as a selfless leader.
Ryan Healt, who was called “Pirate” by his friends, played soccer, basketball, and baseball, becoming co-captain of all three during his senior year.
“He would give the shirt on his back to someone who needed it,” said his father — a quality he attributed to his son’s mother, Donna Healt.
When his father got a job working as park manager at Oquaga Creek State Park, outside of Binghamton, Mr. Healt, then in seventh grade, was moved from the Berne-Knox-Westerlo district to Laurens Central, located outside of Oneonta.
It was in eighth grade that his dream of being a history teacher was born. He studied history at State University of New York College at Cortland, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity.
The Healt family visited regional historic sites, like Fort Stanwix, Gettysburg, Fort Niagara, and Fort Ticonderoga.
Mr. Healt’s favorite teacher, Mr. Henry in social studies, was in the Laurens history department, which his father said “brought it all alive” for him.
The Healts moved out of the district a year later, but Ryan Healt wanted to stay. His parents decided to keep him in Laurens and pay tuition. His mother got a job at the school as a library aid and drove the two-hour round trip with him each day.
“Basketball practice wasn’t until 9 at night,” recalled his father. “She would work all day and wait for practice, then drive an hour to home.”
The nickname “Pirate” stuck when, after a pirate-themed day at the Bainbridge-Gilford High School, Mr. Healt started saying the caricatured “Arr” sound.
“We’re starting the ‘Pirate’ scholarship at the Laurens Central School,” his father said. “It will be for the graduating senior that best exemplifies sportsmanship.”
A Duke basketball fan, Mr. Healt recalled when his son recently came from his bedroom donning a Duke cap and jersey. When his mother asked how the team was performing, he said, “Not very well and they need some inspiration.”
The father and son shared a love of NASCAR, with special admiration for Dale Earnhardt and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Though they did not live close, Ryan Healt developed a bond and love of the outdoors with his grandfather, Garry Healt, who was park manager at Thacher park. They hunted deer in the Horseshoe Hunting Club with Mr. Healt’s father and uncles.
“He was a true sportsman,” said Healt’s father. “It didn’t matter whether we got a deer or not.”
Mr. Healt is survived by his parents, Ronald and Donna Healt, of Bainbridge; his grandparents, William and Charlotte Seim, of Albany; aunts and uncles, Dianne and David Schanz, David and Valerie Healt, William and Debra Eggleston, Richard and Cheryl Eggleston, Michael and Rose Eggleston, Guy Eggleston and Sue Jacobs; and many beloved cousins.
His grandparents, Garry and Grace Healt, died before him, as well as an uncle, Bruce Healt.
Calling hours were held Jan. 5, at the Laurens Central School. The funeral service was also held on Jan. 5, with the Rev. Paul Messner officiating. Arrangements were made by the Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home, 51 Dietz St., Oneonta.
Mourners may go online to www.lhpfuneralhome.com.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Laurens Central School District, Post Office Box 301, Laurens, NY 13796.